More local kids would appreciate your generosity this Christmas seasonFor most of us, having children we love living with strangers is unthinkable; however, for many children each year on this peninsula, it is necessary to keep the children safe.

With the generous help of this community we can make being away from family a bit easier for these children and help their parents when it is time for the family to be reunited. Our foster parents are a group of kind and thoughtful adults who work all year to provide all of the needed "extras" for the children in their care: music lessons, entertainment, swimming lessons, sports and trips. They do this with open and generous hearts; Christmas is one time when we can all help them provide for the children and lessen the financial strain which comes with caring for children no matter what their age.

More children will be briefly introduced to you along with suggested needs for Christmas; all of us - foster parents, children, social workers and the staff of the Chinook Observer deeply appreciate your remembering these children as you prepare for your own holiday celebration.

Some years, it seems we have a lot of teens and this year it seems that we are serving many, many families with babies. Each story has its own sadness and its own hope, but we do have many families with babies who are struggling and receiving services from Children's Services.

Please open your hearts and wallets by supporting this wonderful annual project. Please drop unwrapped gifts or checks at the Chinook Observer, 205 Bolstad Ave. E., Suite 2, in Long Beach. Contributions may be mailed to P.O. Box 427, Long Beach, WA 98631. Thank you.

Here are more of their stories.

Darien is a child who has lived with foster parents for the past three years; he has had one failed adoptive placement. He is now working hard in therapy for his physical disability, and he plays well with the other children in the foster home. He loves to dance and is taking piano lessons for the first time. He is a tall, slender and almost 8 years old. He wears a size 8 pants, 8/10 shirt, size 5 shoes, medium coat and would like to have a "Little People's" play house with small figures he can move around. He likes Yo-Gi-Oh cards and "Magic Treehouse" chapter books. His favorite singer is Dean Martin (I'm not making this up; he has heard this classic singer at the foster home.)

A young boy was recently returned to live with his father; he had been in foster care outside of this county. The father is working hard to make a proper home for his son and most things are going well. The father has had many expenses getting his home prepared for his son, and this Christmas could be difficult. The father is wanting Ricky to have educational toys in the second and fourth grade (Hooked on Phonics, Leap Pad etc.) range, because Ricky is behind in his schooling. He needs clothing pants sized 8, shirt sized 8, jacket/Large-10/12, shoes 3 1/2. Ricky is easy going boy who is delighted to be with his father. He would like to have a soccer ball, Spiderman 2 DVD, a remote control Monster Truck and a chrome 20 inch bicycle with helmet and pads.

For the past ten years Mackie has been out of the family home. (He and all of his brothers and sisters were removed because the parents were using drugs and not able to care for him; the brothers and sisters have all graduated from high school, some are in college.) Mackie, like his siblings, is very bright, affable and social. He keeps the rooms of all the children in the home clean where he is now in a guardianship. He would like to have Clothes this Christmas: pants 34X32, Shirts/T-shirts M-L, shoes 9 1/2 or 10, a warm coat sized Large. He also likes music and any popular music (except gangsta rap) and non-violent DVD movies would be appreciated.

All of his friends think that he is fun. He is doing better in school after having been removed from a home where his family was unable to care for him. His mother abused alcohol and drugs; extended family members were emotionally abusive of him. Buddy would like to have clothes: pants 32X30, shirts M; jacket/coat large, shoes 9 1/2 he wears young men's sizes. Also he would really like an Xbox and a Playstation 2

Mike is 4, almost 5 and lives away from his family because they could not provide a safe home for him. One of his parents is mentally ill and the other suffers from severe depression. Mike loves the color red and he would like: a motor cycle and fire truck (let's assume it's the five year-old size; Santa would have a hard time with bigger ones), He loves books about trains. He wears size five pants and shirt, shoes size 12 and jacket/coat size 5-6. He would like jeans and a winter coat. An additional need is boots to wear in the winter (he asked for snow boots, but around here I think something rain repellent would work.)

This 13-year old boy would love to have some Harry Potter books and the DVD Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the DVD Garfield. Matt was removed from his home when his father was sent to prison and his mother began using drugs and leaving him alone for long periods of time. Matt is in a guardianship with people who are committed to helping him get through high school and make a good life for himself. He is good at art and art supplies would be appreciated; he would also like a football and games for Xbox. Matt wears pants men's 36, shirt Xlarge, jacket/coat men's large and shoes 9 1/2. He would like to have a bike for Christmas, but mostly would appreciate clothes.

This one-and-a-half-year-old was removed from his home when his mother was arrested for selling drugs. He is a sweet and happy little guy who would like to have non-tearable books, movies Rollie Ply Olie, The Wiggles and Dora; Gary would also like flash cards, any (age appropriate) puzzles and blocks to play with. He loves musical toys and basketballs. He wears pants size 24 month/ 3T, shirts 3T, shoes size 8, T-shirts 3-4. He also needs a warm coat. He is doing well in care and learning fast at his day care. He is well coordinated for a toddler.

Maggie almost two years old. Her mom and dad were arrested and in jail; when released they continued using drugs and having unsafe people around her. Maggie has been in care for most of her life. She is an active little girl and loves going places. She would like toddler appropriate books, clothing sized 2T, she loves pink, blue and purple. She would also like a "Little People's" Noah's Ark by Fisher Price, any learning toys. She is happy and outgoing in her foster home.

Often there are children who come into care just before Christmas. The social workers at Children's Service appreciate having items which can be given to those children. Generic items for older children such as watches, videos; and items for younger children: Lincoln logs, board games, hats, scarves etc. are good. When these aren't needed at Christmas, they are saved to be given to children for birthday gifts or special day gifts - such as being on the honor roll, going back home to live, or moving to an adoptive home.

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